Albums of 2014 #13 - Perfume Genius - Too Bright

Perfume Genius
Too Bright
Matador Records. Released September 23rd.

Perfume Genius' third album Too Bright is something of a departure from the slight, delicate arrangements where Mike Hadreas' made his name and it's a progression that has been great to witness, as beautiful and introspective heartbreaking as they are artists need to develop and this is exactly that, an expansion on the intimate nature that wholly made up the first two Perfume Genius records. 

"Queen" lets you know what the album is about, expressing outward anger rather than inner pain throughout with a dark, menacing organ and swelling instrumentation bolder and more powerful than ever before. "Grid" is even bigger, an intense, gripping journey awaits listeners as looping beats and abrasive synths introduce Mike's powerful, dramatic vocals, pummeling drums soon enter the fore and you are immediately transfixed and soon all sorts of eerie horns and nightmarish screams petrify and the result is simply mind-blowing.

"Longpip" could soundtrack any sci-fi blockbuster, with a rhythm that makes me thinking I'm playing the Mass Effect games and "My Body" is unnerving and tense, dirty and gripping.

It wouldn't be Perfume Genius without moments that are staggeringly beautiful and "Don't Let Them In"  alongside the album closure "All Along" are worth their inclusion, sweetly heartbreaking.

Too Bright is simply an ambitious and triumphant success, a collection of dark, emotive wonder.

Perfume Genius #6 - Grid

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Now here's an absolute stormer from Perfume Genius, I'm not sure they are words I thought I'd associate with PG after two albums of introspective heartbreak but the new sounds introduced on the stunning "Queen" have been hardened on this, the phenomenal "Grid".

An intense, gripping journey awaits listeners as an looping beats and abrasive synths introduces Mike's powerful, dramatic vocals, pummeling drums soon enter the fore and you are immediately transfixed, soon all sorts of eerie horns and nightmarish screams petrify and the result is simply mind-blowing. A candidate for track of the year is found.

I've no fucking idea what is going on in the video but if you've seen American Horror Story the idea of six rubber men will probably mean you won't be sleeping much for the next week....

Perfume Genius' new album Too Bright is released September 22nd - it promises to be extraordinary - pre-order a signed copy via Record Store now.

Perfume Genius #5 - Queen

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No blog yesterday, I've been super busy at work and have not been at home until the early hours of the morning. Last night for instance I was at Rough Trade watching a screening of the Pulp film followed by an hour long Q&A with Jarvis and Candida. It was fun and interesting, Jarvis taking the obvious lead throughout with some long, intriguing answers about the film and other tidbits.

Of the most asked question: Is this 'really the end?' The reply was vague and non-committal (it's not a full-stop, nor a question mark, more a comma) but I couldn't help but think we'll hear from Pulp again. At the very least the indication that Jarvis is writing new stuff hints at something on the horizon from him. Don't however expect a big fanfare for Different Class' 20th anniversary next year, Jarvis seemingly said he was uninterested in looking at a calendar, unless the record label push for a release of course.

Anyway, I'm not hear to waffle about one of my favourite ever acts but Pulp have helped to shape the music I listen to today, when I really got into music during year five at school they were 'my band'. Moving forward and to topic, yesterday saw the release of "Queen" (another of 'my bands'!) by the wonderful Perfume Genius. The first track taken from Mike's new, third album Too Bright which will be released Sept 22nd via Turnstile Music.

The track is one you've probably seen feature on just about every blog you read, the reason is simple, it's fucking great. It's great to hear an expansion to the intimate, delicate nature that wholly made up the first two Perfume Genius records, as beautiful and touching as they are artists need to develop and "Queen" is exactly that, expressing outward anger rather than inner pain throughout with a dark, menacing organ and swelling instrumentation bolder and more powerful than ever before. The response perhaps hints towards Mike getting the wider audience he deserves.

A three month US/UK/Euro tour ends with a date on 27th November at London's Islington Assembly Hall.

Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part Two

Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part Two

Previously posted: Part One // Two // Three // Four // Five

20. Metric - Synthetica

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Instantly accessible and a guarantee to rock your pants off, Synthetica is a fine follow up to the equally rewarding Fantasies, it finds the Canadian quartet in a fun, larger than life mood, exuding a grander, more confident feel throughout, the title track's glam-stomp rush is a perfect summation, pacey and in your face from the word go, evidence if you needed it that Metric should be stadium sized.

"Youth Without Youth" revels in 80's synth with dark industrial rhythms and a hard-hitting beats it sounds like they've been enjoying a few old Depeche Mode LP's over the past few years where huge guitars and Emily's trademark vocals are equally prominent, like so much of the album, it is hypnotic and catchy as fuck. Something which could almost be repeated with the albums next single "Speed The Collapse" which soars with epic-sized guitar screeches, metronomic beats and Emily's mellow vocals.

The energy remains with the euphoric "Breathing Underwater" while softer moments like "Clone" are equally rewarding, seeing the focus completely switch to Emily's show-stopping vocal, which as you can imagine is near on perfection, around twinkling synth overtures it is simply a beauty. "Lost Kitten" is one of the memorable songs from the live set and sees the band at their sensual best. Electronic, glam-indie at it's best Synthetica is a wonderful album by a fresh band who remain at the top of their game.





19. Beach House - Bloom

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There's no hiding the fact that Bloom sounds very much like a close sister to 2010's Teen Dream, full of the same vein of clean, crisp hooks and beautifully lit melody. Beach House are a rare band who've managed to juggle commercial and critical success for two albums now with no sign of giving up.

Bloom defines the bands talents (though perhaps there is nothing quite as gorgeous as "Zebra" or "Take Care" from Teen Dream), offering ten perfectly constructed pop tracks combining both choruses with sparkling, impeccable melodies.

 Its first single "Myth" brings the same magisterial, melodic dream-pop sensibilities that brought swooning reviews from all quarters but seems more dramatic, richer and larger in scale. Twinkling keys and shimmering guitars wrap around Victoria's trademark vocal, perhaps at their finest on "Lazuli", another instant stand-out, luminescent glory (just like the glow in the dark LP sleeve) bathed in a gorgeous wash of electronic shoegaze come dream-pop, "The Hours" sounds equally as familiar, equally as Beach House. I can't remember the last time I heard an album that fits a bands sound quite as much as Bloom, perhaps that's it's biggest compliment and criticism too, but there's no need to push boundaries that don't need pushing at all.

Bloom is simply luscious and will bring all sorts of goosebumps to lovers and dreamers all over the world.



18. 2:54 - 2:54

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2:54 are a band I've been following since their original demos made on garage-band introduced their now trademark atmospherics and dark, brooding melodies that are equal parts menace and alluring wonder. Their self-titled debut sees them (naturally) spruce up that sound with slick production gloss and shiny, reverberating soundscapes...

The album is brimmed with creeping guitar spirals and hauntingly melodic vocals, "Scarlet" oozes with ominous, shimmering mood, "Creeping" has arguably the guitar solo of the year at its finale while Collette's vocal almost makes love to you on the spot and "Sugar" is dark and driving, something which can be used to describe much of the album for there's not much light here, I've seen some reviews fault that, I couldn't care less... 2:54 sounds just great to me.

I recently posted that when I saw the band perform at XOYO six weeks or so back the set sounded like a greatest hits show, that's about the best summation I can pay as to how strong and cohesive 2:54 is.



17. Soap&Skin - Narrow

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Slightly less accessible than the last few picks is Anja Plaschg, aka Soap&Skin, who I've referred to on many occasions as one of the most extraordinary artists in music today in terms of artistic creativity and raw, genuine talent. Her intimate and emotive song-craft makes for (often) difficult but always compelling listening, using piano and voice as her primary instruments Soap&Skin's second LP Narrow perfectly encapsulates all that, being both strikingly beautiful and strangely captivating.

There's no hiding the fact that Narrow is a dark, unnerving album of eight tracks bathed in industrial soundscapes amongst emotional piano and achingly personal delivery that will bring shivers to your spine. I can't understand a word said in "Vater" (Father) but I can feel the pain and emotion in the delivery and intensity in her instruments (a song about the loss of her Father). The next two tracks combine both the dramatic and the beguiling, Anja's version of "Voyage Voyage" combines twinkling ivories with bleak, heart-felt vocals whereas "Deathmental" is delivered in raw anger and aggression amongst harsh samples and synths.

Things turn to the tender and sublime with the exceptionally gorgeous "Cradlesong" and "Wonder", led by serenely restrained piano and orchestral choruses where Anja's inimitable ghostly vocals echo within the melancholic key strokes, subdued, heartfelt and genuinely beautiful and I have to mention "Lost" too, devastating and powerful through minimalistic delivery.

Narrow confirms what a rare talent Soap&Skin in, what a privilege it is to have seen her twice already.



16. Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It

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Following up the stark and elusive Learning (one of my favourite albums of 2010) was never going to be easy but Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas) has managed it in some style, his second LP Put Your Back N 2 It sees a continuation of the slight, delicate arrangements of Hadreas' where echoing vocals and his heartbreaking delivery create a staggeringly beautiful and intimate collection of dark, emotive wonder.

Possibly best beguiling on "All Waters", an emotive, luscious expansion of the Perfume Genius sound and "Hood" , a gorgeous piano led ballad that is direct, powerful and beguilingly beautiful, Hadreas' bruised vocal shines throughout the record, "Dark Parts" sends shivers through your soul, hauntingly plaintive, Put Your Back N 2 It has its wounds out in the open, there for all to see.



End of the Road 2012 - Festival Preview Part Two

Without any further ado, part two of my End of the Road 2012 preview, this post concentrates on the rest of the weekend after part one's focus on the Bella Union Friday:

Savages - Facebook
Sunday - Big Top Stage 12.15

Savages, the band of 2012 for many, many people. Everything they've done has found plaudits glaore and they've been called the saviours of post-punk / guitar bands ever since the rumbling "City's Full" hit early this year, the single Husbands / Flying to Berlin did little to settle the hype.

With it's ferocious, blistering intensity the four piece are the very definition of entrancement, with dark rumbling bass lines, menacing drum rhythms and Jehn's venomous vocals which hit you like a ton of bricks, Savages music makes you want to play it louder and louder, again and again.



Dark Dark Dark - Facebook
Saturday - Garden Stage 15.00

Dark Dark Dark haven't been featured here for a while, since 2010's Wild Go came to my attention through its luscious pinnacle, "Daydreaming", a real treat of a track, where vivid landscapes created by the beautifully complex yet delicate and well-crafted instrumentation, soulful vocals and soaring melodies sooth your mind and transport you to a beautiful place, somewhere like a field in Dorset towards the end of the summer....

The band have a new album Who Needs Who due in October and I'm interested to hear that in a live arena beforehand.



Perfume Genius - Facebook
Saturday - Garden Stage 16.45

Another festival and another recommendation to see the wonderful Perfume Genius, his recent show at St Pancras Old Church an indication of his talents, simply sublime, it managed to leave the entire crowd in utter awe, bruised, plaintive and compellingly beautiful, just like his two albums so far. Those wanting an intimate, captivating experience to light up their Saturday afternoon / early evening should look no further.


First Aid Kit - Facebook
Sunday - Garden Stage 16.45

As with Perfume Genius, First Aid Kit and I seem to be sharing festivals this year, that's no bad thing at all as far as I'm concerned. I wrote a preview for the band about five weeks ago, so I apologise in advance for this mainly regurgitated post.

Another of the year's finest records so far is First Aid Kit's second full-length The Lion's Roar. The Swedish sisters have long been a favourite folk-leaning act of mine, since I first saw them at back at Glastonbury 2010. They've grown since and now backed by a full band have a full, deep sound that perfectly suits their breathtaking harmonies and (cliché time) mature-beyond-their-years lyrics. Sincere and heart-felt, latest single "Blue" the perfect insight to their beguiling balance of sweet voices and rich production.

Guaranteed to leave those in attendance spellbound.



Islet - Facebook
Saturday - Big Top Stage 13.00

Welsh noise-makers Islet treated us to an early year album highlight with their debut Illuminated People, single "This Fortune" is everything I've come to expect from the Cardiff experimental act, unconventional and shambolic (in a good way) melodies, propulsive rhythms and clattering drums.

The drums really are amazing, for the all the chaos the band bring to their records (and even more so their live show) they are incredibly tight musicians, I love the vocals here too, trademark yelps a plenty. This set is a must-see, Islet really do live up to their live show reputation, with totally bonkers on-stage antics, exuberant energy and also more importantly, some bloody brilliant tracks. It'll be sweaty, hypnotic and lots and lots of fun.



Toy - Facebook
Saturday - Big Top Stage 15.30

I've not got too much to add to what I've said a couple of times about Toy in the month or so, displaying almost as much hair as talent, the London five piece summed up the buzz with "Left Myself Behind", an eight minute runaway rollercoaster that combines the best bits of psyche, krautrock and shoegaze in one glorious track, gorgeous shimmering guitars duel with the korg keys and consistent drum beats, to keep it simple, it's one of the essential tracks of the last six months from one of the UK's hottest new properties. Truly superb, hard, dense, melodic, brilliant, just like latest single "Dead & Gone".

The album is due in September and promises to be one of the year's essential purchases.

Latitude Festival 2012 - Preview Part Two

No waffle (I'm pretty short on time!) just straight into part two of my tips to see at Latitude Festival. Part one is here in case you missed it (and are interested).

Laura Marling - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - Obelisk Arena

A second to headline billing on the main stage for Laura Marling, a quite incredible rise for arguably Britain's most successful current singer/songwriter, with her recently announcing that her fourth album is written it's a rise that I can't see ending any time soon either...

The last time I saw her at Glastonbury last year a couple got engaged, expect similar declarations of love during her set at Latitude, Laura's three albums to date portray the vulnerability and versatility of her songcraft and beguiling voice, stark and haunting her staggering talent will be one of the stars of the weekend.




Daughter - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The I Arena

Daughter's rise over the last eighteen months (although on a smaller scale to the above Ms Marling) has been equally impressive, from a self-released demo EP given away free to a small number of followers to a Mute signing and thirty seven thousand fans on facebook alone.

It's hardly surprising, I didn't do a best of 2011 EP's posting but if I had both Elena's releases His Young Heart and The Wild Youth would have featured highly and I'm sure Daughter was close to a spot on the BBC sound of 2012 list, perhaps the lack of exposure and instant success that demands is a good thing for her career...

Expect emotionally affecting heartbreaking moments and spine-tingling intimacy at her show at Latitude's I Arena, another I genuinely cannot wait for.



Tim Ten Yen - Facebook
Friday 13th July - The Lake Stage

Now something a bit different, I used to love Tim Ten Yen, unfortunately I've not seen him perform for a few years now but Latitude has given me the perfect time to correct my oversight. 


Back in 2006/7 I was obsessed with a band called Apartment (I still am, if only they'd found the success they deserved...) and Tim was a regular support act (Tim also played with David on one of his few solo shows since), his act basically (I keep using the past tense as I've not actually heard anything from him for over 24 months) comprised of Tim and an iPod along with his Sinister Cat (stuffed). 

Tim Ten Yen's show is a guarantee to brighten your mood and get you ready for the festival ahead, come and watch him, I promise you won't be disappointed.



I Break Horses - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The I Arena

I'm very interested to see how I Break Horses go down at a festival, I've seen both their two London live shows so far and the second at Scala was a world apart from the first. Transforming the album Hearts into a seamless piece of art. Pulsating synths and drums perform the backbone as the tracks are stretched from the original state, somewhere in the mix the reverb-drenched vocals of Maria Lindén shimmer and shine.

Still a band in their infancy, I Break Horses are very much an act to grow up with and saviour in their journey. 




Zola Jesus - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The I Arena

Another act I needn't cover in too much glory again (I've already done it countless times), Nika Roza Danilova's Zola Jesus returns to UK shores a year after the release of Conatus to headline Saturday's I Arena line-up.

Her incredible sound based around her bands harsh, metallic beats and Nika's colossal voice will create a menacing atmosphere that's dramatic, hypnotic and immediate.  One of the most prolific, incredible artists of our time Zola Jesus is an obvious pick and one you shouldn't miss.


Perfume Genius - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The I Arena

My pick to close the festival, Mike Hadreas (Aka Perfume Genius) will close a stage which seems to have taken over this preview, The I Arena on Sunday, those of you wanting an intimate, captivating experience to end their weekend should look no further.

His recent show at St Pancras Old Church an indication of his talents,  sublime, it managed to leave the entire crowd in utter awe, bruised, plaintive and compellingly beautiful, just like his two albums so far.



Of course, I could have easily included Toy, SoKo, Lucy Rose, Smoke Fairies, The Staves and of course Bon Iver to name but a few of the other quality acts playing over the weekend - the line-up is that good. Cannot wait!


For the full line-up, last minute tickets and more head to Latitude's official website - http://www.latitudefestival.co.uk/

Perfume Genius #4 - Hood


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The two of you that were maybe left wondering who I meant in my last post can now be put out of your (no doubt) suspenseful misery! Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius shared the second track to emerge from his forthcoming second LP 'Put Your Back N 2 It' (released 20th February via Turnstile and available to pre-order here) "Hood", a gorgeous piano led ballad that is direct, powerful and beguilingly beautiful, Hadreas' bruised vocal stars throughout, hauntingly plaintive, his lyrics honest and open.

The video will no doubt cause some controversy by those who choose to be far less open about equality as they are about complaining and being prudish but after some dozen or so plays the only thing to dislike about this track is that much like the previous preview "All Waters", "Hood" is over far too soon, perhaps though its brevity adds to its impact, just sublime.


Perfume Genius #3 - New Album + Free Download

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The day when the whole of music spends the morning bickering about something with the aim of promoting new music (read my last post) got a whole let better with the news of the return of Perfume Genius. Mike Hadreas has announced the follow up to the intimate, stark and staggeringly beautiful 'Learning' (one of my favourite albums of 2010), entitled 'Put Your Back N 2 It' it will be released February 20th via Turnstile Music.

As a preview you we've been treated to a free download of album track "All Waters", which sees a continuation of the slight arrangements, delicate, echoing vocals and heartbreaking delivery (though the initial ten seconds sounds like a slowed down version of "I Want To Break Free"!). I cannot wait to hear the rest, the press release promises a lush expansion of Mike's sound, I'm certainly anticipating a sublime album that promises to be one of 2012's best.

You can listen / download "All Waters" below and pre-order a signed copy of the new album direct here. UK liive dates are promised for Spring.

Perfume Genius - 'All Waters'